Back to School Blues

I always remember back-to-school time being so bittersweet; you’re not quite ready to let go of the freedom and relaxation of summertime, but you’re sick of the heat and miss your friends, a routine, and learning. I felt this both as a student growing up, and even as a teacher returning to work. It seemed like summer always dragged on and went by in a flash all at the same time.

I remember one back-to-school season that was particularly polarizing for me - the summer after graduating high school. I had a perfectly balanced summer complete with a part-time job, movies with friends, lake and beach vacations, and plenty of down time for reading and resting. But I also had an acceptance to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a dorm move-in date that was fast approaching. I was eager and excited to embark on this new adventure of college and adulthood, but it was so new and so intimidating. I felt like I was willing it to come and pushing it away with all my might all at the same time.

I wasn’t one of those students who immediately thrived in my newfound freedom, nor was I one that completely fell on my face. I was somewhere in the middle, living in a constant state of nostalgia and anticipation, a roller coaster of emotions and feelings. Aside from staying busy and trying to get involved with activities and new people, one thing that helped keep my mind at ease was surrounding myself with items that reminded me of where I came from and the people I loved. I had picture boards, knick-knacks and familiar cozy blankets. My parents sent me plenty of care packages, and always included a little something to remind me of home. Even though I was far from home and all that I knew and loved, it was nice to have these little pieces to cling to when I needed a little reminder that everything was going to be okay.

(Left: Natasha, commencement ceremony June 2012 @ Cal Poly SLO,

Right: Garrett, commencement ceremony June 2011 @ Cuesta College)

As our social media feeds are filled with photos of first days of school, tearful but excited goodbyes, empty nests, and new beginnings, I can only say, “good luck!” We may not have our own “back to school” experience this year, but in a few short years, we will be dropping our little one to her very first day of kindergarten. I can already anticipate the range of emotions I’ll be feeling, and while I know I’ll be filled with pride and joy and anticipation, I know there will be pangs of nostalgia and sadness as well.

What is your back to school experience looking like this year? How do you cope with the conflicting feelings of wanting summer to stay but also wanting it to end?

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